The Stanley brothers and their land speed record Steamer of 1906







The Stanley Motor Carriage Company was an American manufacturer of steam-engine vehicles; it operated from 1902 to 1924. The cars made by the company were colloquially called Stanley Steamers, although several different models were produced.

Twins Francis E. Stanley (1849–1918) and Freelan O. Stanley (1849–1940) founded the company after selling their photographic dry plate business to Eastman Kodak. They produced their first car in 1897. During 1898 and 1899, they produced and sold over 200 cars, more than any other U.S. maker. In 1899, Freelan and his wife Flora drove one of their cars to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest peak in the northeastern United States. The ascent took more than two hours and was notable as being the first time a car had climbed the 7.6 miles (12.2 km) long Mount Washington Carriage Road; the descent was accomplished by putting the engine in low gear and braking extensively. The twins later sold the rights to this early design to Locomobile, and in 1902 they formed the Stanley Motor Carriage Company.




Early Stanley cars had light wooden bodies mounted on tubular steel frames by means of full-elliptic springs. Steam was generated in a vertical fire-tube boiler, mounted beneath the seat, with a vaporizing gasoline (later, kerosene) burner underneath. The boiler was reinforced by several layers of piano wire wound around it, which gave it a strong, yet relatively light-weight, shell. In early models, the vertical fire-tubes were made of copper, and were expanded into holes in the upper and lower crown sheets. In later models, the installation of a condenser caused oil-fouling of the expansion joints, and welded steel fire-tubes were used instead. The boilers were safer than one might expect – they were fitted with safety valves, and even if these failed, a dangerous overpressure would rupture one of the many joints long before the boiler shell was in danger of bursting, and the resulting leak would relieve the boiler pressure and douse the burner with little risk to the occupants of the car. There has never been a documented case of a Stanley boiler exploding in use.





The engine had two double-acting cylinders side-by-side, equipped with slide-valves, and was of the simple-expansion type. Drive was transmitted directly from the engine crankshaft to a rear-mounted differential by means of a chain. Locomobiles were often modified by their owners, who added third-party accessories, e.g., improved lubricators, condensers, and devices which mitigated the laborious starting procedure, and so forth.

Later, the Stanley brothers, to overcome patent difficulties with the design they had sold to Locomobile, developed a new automobile model with twin cylinder engines geared directly to the back axle. Later models had aluminium coachwork that resembled internal combustion cars of the time but retained the many steam car features for example no transmission, clutch, or driveshaft. They also had a fully sprung tubular steel frame.

When they later shifted the steam boiler to the front of the vehicle, the resulting feature was called by owners the "coffin nose." In order to improve range, condensers were used, beginning in 1915. A Stanley Steamer set the world record for the fastest mile in an automobile (28.2 seconds) in 1906. This record was not broken by any automobile until 1911, although Glen Curtiss beat the record in 1907 with a V-8 powered motorcycle at 136 mph (219 km/h). The record for steam-powered automobiles was not broken until 2009. Production rose to 500 cars in 1917.

The Stanley Steamer was sometimes nicknamed "The Flying Teapot". At least one Stanley Steamer found its way to Castle Hill, New South Wales, Australia where it was driven in the late 1920s.






During the mid to late 1910s, the fuel efficiency and power delivery of internal combustion engines improved dramatically and the usage of an electric starter rather than a crank, which was notorious for injury to its operators, led to the rise of the gasoline-powered automobile (which eventually was much cheaper). The Stanley company produced a series of advertising campaigns trying to woo the car-buying public away from the "internal explosion engine," to little effect. An advertising slogan for these campaigns was, "Power – Correctly Generated, Correctly Controlled, Correctly Applied to the Rear Axle." These campaigns are early examples of a fear, uncertainty and doubt type advertising campaign, as their purpose was not so much to convince the audience of the benefits of the Stanley Steamer car as to plant the notion an internal combustion automobile could explode.

In 1918, after F.E. Stanley's accidental death, F.O. Stanley sold the interests to Prescott Warren. The company then endured a period of decline and technological stagnation. As the production specifications show, no models with a power output higher than 20 hp (15 kW) were produced after 1918. Far better cars were available at much lower cost – for example, a 1924 Stanley 740D sedan cost $3950 ($54357 today), compared to under $500 ($6881 today) for a Ford Model T. Widespread use of electric starters in internal combustion cars eroded the greatest remaining technological advantages of the steam car.

Efficiencies of scale, a lack of effective advertising and general public desire for higher speeds and less fussy starting than were possible with the Stanley technology were the primary causes of the company's demise and the factory closed permanently in 1924.





The longest standing steam Land Speed Record was set in 1906. With driver Fred Marriot at the wheel, the Stanley Steamer managed 127.659 mph.  



F O Stanley


F. O. Stanley



In 1906 the sands of Ormond Beach, now called Daytona Beach, hosted internationally; recognized land speed record attempts. The Dewar International Trophy was to straightaway land speed competition what the Americas Cup was to yachting.  The only vehicles vying for the Dewar Trophy that year were the Stanley’s steamer and four petrol powered cars, three being Fiats and one Napier. Fred Marriott won cleanly in the Stanley Steamer with a measured mile time of 28 1/5 second which corresponds to a speed of 127.659MPH.



Fred Marriot  Stanley Steamer with Fred Marrit at the wheel


Fred Marriot and the Stanley Steamer



The record set in 1906 is of significance as it is the longest standing FIA recognized LSR. It was set in the days when gasoline powered internal combustion engines were competing neck-and-neck with steam powered external combustion engines for commercial market share.  In the midst of this commercial battle were twin brothers F.E. and F.O. Stanley, known for their Stanley Steamer. Their innovative vehicles were in very high demand early in the 1900s. Their shop constructed several thousand cars in the early part of the nineteenth century but they were overshadowed by the petrol powered internal combustion engines gaining prevalence in the market.



Drawing of the Stanley Steamer


Stanley Steamer - Drawings



The car was constructed by the Stanley brothers and was a technological marvel for its day. The Stanley brothers created a car that had extremely low drag, incorporating as much inside the cigar shaped body shell as possible including the suspension springs. The engine was a twin piston double acting type with a displacement of 184 cubic inches or 3.1 litres. This corresponds roughly to an internal combustion 4 stroke V8 with a displacement of 735 cubic inches or 12.25 litres. The working pressure claimed to be either 275 or 1000 psi depending on the report with a  temperature of 700 degrees F. With the power required to drive the vehicle at the recorded speeds the 1000 psi is most likely the correct figure.   The car was 16 feet long and 3 ft wide at its widest part with a total frontal area of 9 sq. ft including wheels. The total vehicle weight was 1675 lbs.




Stanley Steamer - side view showing wire wheels



In 1999, the British Steam Car Challenge was launched with the twofold aim of breaking the land speed record for steam powered vehicles as well as creating some excitement in the arena of alternate fuels. It is hoped that the project will help the trend toward more fuel efficient and cleaner burning vehicles for the future of transportation.  The project was officially kicked off in June of 1999 with a luncheon hosting members of the team, sponsors and distinguished guests including Lord Montagu of Beaulieu as the patron of the project. The car, named Inspiration after the effect we hope it will have, is to be on loan to the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu after the 200 MPH barrier has been broken.


The first mention of a steam powered vehicle will usually conjure images of ancient tiller steered motor cars and pre-war rail engines. It was during the early nineteen hundreds that the petrol engine gained dominance in the personal transportation marketplace. While not exactly new in concept, steam powered vehicles have potential that today’s internal combustion engines lack. While the compact size and robust power density figures make the internal combustion engine attractive, its drawback also stems from its popularity. 




Stanley Steamer - Rear





In 1985, a steam turbine-powered vehicle modified and driven by Bob Barber set a new Land Steam Record of 145.607 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats. However, this record was not recognized by the F.I.A as official, since the Barber vehicle set the record running two timed runs in the same direction. The F.I.A requires that timed runs be made in both directions, within one hour, with the average speed of the two runs becoming the record speed. 




The 1977 turbine-powered Steamin' Demon displayed here was built by Jim Crank, a steam car buff, who purchased the engine from Lear Motors and built the body with help from Fiber Fab and Volkswgen of America. He attempted to break the Land Speed Record for steam-powered cars set in 1906 by Stanley Steamer's "Stanley Rocket" at 127.656 mph. Crank was unable to reach 100 mph and sold the car in 1982 to Barber-Nichols Engineering Company in Colorado. They rebuilt the car and tried for the record at El Mirage, California, reaching 111 mph. The company tried again in 1984 at Bonneville Salt Flats reaching 110 mph. Success came on August 19, 1985, when Robert Barber drove the Barber-Nichols Steamin' Demon at Bonneville to a new record of 145.607 mph. This remains the current world record. Barber said that when he reached 140 mph, the door jiggled loose and blew off and, at the end of the run, the engine compartment was on fire. The 250 hp Steaming' Demon weighs 5,000 pounds, 1,000 pounds of which represents the stainless steel steam boiler. The boiler holds 60 gallons of water. When floorboarded, the steam reaches 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit at a pressure 900 pounds per square inch. The super heated, high pressure steam then feeds into a 60,000 rpm turbine. 






Steam Powered


World Record Car


Jim Crank


Redwood City, California




Steam Turbine, 250 H.P.






Operating Pressure 900 P.S.I.







The British Steam Car Challenge was conceived with the twofold aim of breaking the land speed record for steam powered vehicles as well as creating excitement in the arena of alternate fuels. It is hoped that the project will create interest among the next generation of engineers and designers to work toward cleaner and safer forms of transportation, both public and private.  


The current reliance of the internal combustion engine on highly refined hydrocarbon based fuels makes the external combustion engine an attractive concept for many applications. External combustion engines such as the steam engine are not fuel specific, meaning that any fuel can be used.  


Similarly, the technology used in the project is far from antiquated. In fact, some leading edge technologies have been employed to make the record attempt possible. The development phase of the project includes over 18 months of proof-of-concept and research work on the steam generation and power delivery systems.  Students quickly developed a vehicle that would, in theory, set a new record. They devised the shape and general concept of the project including the amount of power required to push that shape to the 200 MPH mark.



British steam powered LSR car 2004


British LSR Steam Car 2004



The team say that the most enduring part of the project is the ongoing education of students and the public after the Land Speed Record has been set. What we have accomplished with this vehicle is an integrated approach to a land speed record. An innovative boiler design, high performance turbine, aerodynamically slippery shape and clean burning fuel all combine to make this vehicle an extremely technologically and ecologically advanced project. But the overall aim of the project is to promote education and awareness of clean burning fuels and ecologically sound technologies to young engineers all over Britain. The project is also a chance for some hopefuls to keep their name in the limelight to rekindle interest in their own projects, generously provided by the project members, despite detracting to some extent from the efforts of the team.


It is the hope of the team and many of the project supporters to bring another land speed record to Britain. The car is being designed and constructed in the UK, and the first of two record attempts will be made in the UK.  Automotive racing has always pushed the envelope of technology and led the forefront of automotive change. Man’s desire to go faster has led to advances in existing capabilities.  





Driver - Charles Burnett

Lady Driver - Annette Getty

Chief Designer - Glynne Bowsher 

Consulting Engineer - Peter Candy 

Systems Design - Jeremy Bliss 

Internet - Jeremy Davey

LPG System Designer - John King 

Project Instigator - Dr. Neil Richardson 

Engineering Logistics Coordinator - Frank Swanston

Team Coordinator and Administrator - Lynne Angel

Senior Test and Car Build Technician - Shaun Arnold





Steam Homepage News  |  Team  |  Design  |  Challenge

Car  |  Aerodynamics  |  Construction  |  Engine/Drive Train  |  Boilers  |  Safety Systems  |  Side-on  |  Above (Plan)  |  Front Aspect  |  Rear Aspect  |  Specifications







The STEAM SPEED AMERICA Streamliner has proven itself during a preliminary testing program at Bonneville in October 2012. The testing and development program has continued - right up to the present. Through the spring and summer of 2013, the team did quite a rebuild and redevelopment of the steam generator-burner, as well as an exhaustive series of dyno tests on the entire drive train. The intention is to make their record attempt at the World Finals, but the event was cancelled because of rain.

SSA did two test runs at the Ohio Mile in Wilmington, Ohio on September 28th-29th. With only a mile to run and a mile to stop, the team admit that the runs weren't spectacular but nevertheless they discovered and corrected more minor problems. A major problem that arose was the failure of the clutch on the last run that they made. The team thank the stars that the failure occurred when it did - and that it's easily corrected. They plan to make their record attempt at Bonneville Speed Week in August 2014.



Chuk Williams and his steam powered streamliner. The Steam Speed America car is featured on the SACA - The Steam Automobile Club of America's website along with other steam powered vehicles. The SACA is a Not For Profit Organization, founded in 1958, for the preservation and propagation of automotive steam technology, whether historic, modern ,or experimental. We offer club members technical information and help.Some local chapters have shows were you can display your steam automobile, swap ideas, attend demonstrations, and meet others who share your interest in steam automobiles. Become a member of The Steam Automobile Club of America and receive our newsletter "The Steam Automobile Bulletin" it contains informative articles, technical information, classifieds, chapter news, and more. President - Ken Helmick - 964 Highlander St. Lake Orion, MI. 48362 



Chuk Williams' Steam Land Speed Record car is well planned with outstanding fit and finish, it was the star of the steam shows until Team Steam USA was formed. The Cyclone Mark 5 engine installation has found an excellent forum to demonstrate it's potential, with a huge audience awaiting performance trials of this debutante clean, green multifuel powerplant.

The Cyclone Mark 5 will be a crate engine designed for installation in a passenger car. It fills the space nicely, and makes the car look very promising, professional and complete. The final drive is via dual timing belts at 1:1 ratio overall. It has no transmission or clutch as the Cyclone engine will produce 850lb of self-starting torque. Engine rpm equals wheel rpm. 2500 rpm is required to exceed the existing Steam Land Speed Record of 148.308 mph set by the British Steam Car Challenge Team in 2009.





The engine used in the LSR Streamliner will be a stock 6-cylinder Cyclone Mark V automotive engine, intended for use in regular cars. It is said to be capable of producing 100 HP with a maximum starting torque of 850 ft/lbs, and should hopefully propel the car to over 160 mph (257.5 kph). However, as the record breaking attempt will only require a run of a few minutes meaning the water won't need to be reused, the engine won't have a full condensing unit.

“Our calculations show that we can break this record with our stock automotive engine,” said Cyclone founder and USLSR team member Harry Schoell. “We considered modifying the engine and combustion chamber to increase power output and speed, which we may do in the future. But for right now, we think it’s important to demonstrate the power, clean emissions and multi-fuel qualities of a Cyclone engine as you may possibly see it one day in an American made Ford or Chevy.”

The fiberglass body of the Streamliner is 21 feet (6.4 meters) in length, weigh 1,600 pounds (726 kg), and have a sub-.2 coefficient of drag.






Nelson Hoyos with the Team Steam USA car, that reminds us of another US streamliner - and we would not mind betting that either the molds, or the inspiration was from that source. Both US teams seem to be using the same power plant: the Cyclone engine.






Harry Schoell is Chairman and CEO of Cyclone Power Technologies. He is the inventor of the Cyclone Engine that will power Team Steam USA’s attempt to break the Land Speed Record for steam vehicles. Under Harry’s leadership, Cyclone has received over 29 patents for the Cyclone Engine, the “Invention of the Year” Award from Popular Science, two SAE Tech Awards, and major contracts from Raytheon and the U.S. Army. 


Harry made his mark in the marine design, power and propulsion fields, and was recently named as one of the true “Game Changers” in the industry by Boating Magazine.

Nelson Hoyos is Director of Development and Driver for the Team. Nelson is a two-time NHRA Champion and Turbo Magazine “Driver of the Year”. He has been involved in the development, racing and business aspects of motorsports for over 30 years, and has been instrumental in leading high profile multi-million dollar race team and marketing programs for the US Navy, Ford and Chevrolet Racing Divisions. As factory driver and engine technologies advisor, Nelson has set numerous drag racing records for Ford, Chevy and set a land speed record at Bonneville in excess of 243 mph for the GM Performance/Chevrolet division. Nelson founded and currently runs the Driven2Win Drag Racing School.




Cyclone Power Technologies is a research & development company focused on helping solve two of the great problems of our time: our dependence on fossil fuels, and the resulting unsustainable consequences to our environment. The Cyclone Engine is a Rankine Cycle heat regenerative external combustion, otherwise known as a “Schoell Cycle” engine. In short, the Cyclone is a 21st century, high efficiency, compact and powerful steam engine. The Cyclone Engine is capable of running on virtually any fuel (or combination of fuels) including today’s promising new bio fuels, while emitting far fewer pollutants than traditional gas or diesel powered internal combustion engines.




Based on the ground breaking designs of the George Poteet and Ron Main Bonneville-proven streamliner, Speed Demon, the Cyclone vehicle will feature state-of-the-art technology and unmatched aerodynamics. The body will be approximately 25’ long, 33” wide and 34” high (not including tail). The vehicle will have a drag coefficient (Cd) of an amazing 0.08.


Cyclone Power Technologies, Inc.
601 NE 26th Court
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
T: 954-943-8721
F: 954-788-6565







Cyclone Power

Steam Speed America

US Land Steam Record

Wikipedia Stanley_Motor_Carriage_Company

Gizmag US team attempts steam land speed record

Gas2 2011 American-team-aims-to-reclaim-steam-land-speed-record

Daily Mail Success-British-steam-supercar-smashes-100-year-old-land-speed-record




Lands End to John O'Groats contender: Ecostar DC50


Team Speedace plan to run the Ecostar DC50 above on the from John O'Groats in Scotland to Lands End in Cornwall in an attempt to beat the current record set in a Tesla in 2013. Contact Chris or Terry for details. Donald Campbell would have loved to see the blue bird logo on a road car. This is a fitting tribute to the speed king on the 50th anniversary of his land (16-7-64) and water (31-12-64) speed double whammies in 1964.




Bluebird Wolrd Cup Trophy


The Bluebird World Cup Trophy challenge



The world's fastest electric land speed record car, a blue bird eco streamliner


The blue bird legend continues with this Reid Railton inspired design that benefits from pointers from Ken Norris, as to materials and drive layout. This is possibly the world's fastest electric car: 350mph + using energy from nature. Featuring built in battery cartridge exchange, charged using renewable solar energy. Sponsors sought for the 2016 season.





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